Image of Japanese print Newly published perspective view: Enjoying cool evening at Edo’s Ryōgoku bridge


Edo in Colour

Prints from Japan’s Metropolis

The pulse of a city perfected on paper, explore the breathtaking world of the city now known as Tokyo.

Newly published perspective view: Enjoying cool evening at Edo’s Ryōgoku bridge
Kitagawa Utamaro II
Japan, 1806-1818
CBL J 2522

Featuring one hundred prints and printed books from the Chester Beatty’s renowned collections of Japanese art, Edo in Colour explores how woodblock prints shaped a city’s identity as they crafted its image.

Bursting into life as capital of Japan’s ruling shogunate, by the mid-18th century the population of Edo (modern Tokyo) had grown to over one million.

From buskers and teahouse beauties to actors, entertainers, prostitutes and star-crossed lovers, the people of downtown Edo became celebrities of this new metropolis, their image captured in vibrant woodblock prints.

Woodblock prints were an affordable art, printed by the thousand and consumed as fast as fashion demanded. They are also aesthetically rich and technically accomplished. As illustrious artists and shrewd publishers battled for market share, they constructed the city anew on paper.

Inspired by the seasonality of these artworks, this exhibition will be shown in two parts:

Part 1: 28 May – 29 August 2021

Part 2: 4 September – 5 December 2021

The exhibition will close for changeover from 30 August to 3 September.

The exhibition catalogue and a selection of Edo-themed prints, stationery and facemasks can be purchased at the museum shop.

Visit the 3D Virtual Exhibition

Exhibition Talks and In Focus Videos

Register now for online guest lecture Purrfection in Print: Saitō Kiyoshi’s Feline Designs (20 October, details here).

For other upcoming events, workshops and activities accompanying Edo in Colour, check out our What’s On page, or take a look at recordings of past talks and In Focus videos below.

In Focus

Want to know more about some of the artworks featured in the exhibition? Try one of our bitesize In Focus videos.

Fireworks over Ryōgoku Bridge

Sailing with the Seven Lucky Gods

Edo in Drag? Introducing the Niwaka Festival

Edo in Colour Lecture Series

In this series of lectures, exhibition curator Dr Mary Redfern reveals how prints helped shape and present the identity, vitality and place of Edo before examining how and why Chester Beatty collected these artworks.

Selling the City: Prints, Publishers, Audiences – This lecture introduces the vibrant metropolis of Edo (modern Tokyo) which stood as muse, maker and market for exquisite woodblock prints.

Dangerous Places: Theatres and Brothels of the Floating World – Stepping into the ‘bad places’ of Edo’s floating world, our attention turns to printed books depicting the women of the Yoshiwara brothel district and the heroes of kabuki theatre.

Peace and Prosperity: Picturing the Shōgun’s Capital – As Edo flourished, the ruling shogunate kept a wary eye on its booming popular culture. Here we explore the contrasts of pride, prosperity and censorship foundational to Edo’s expression in print.

Buying In: Chester Beatty and Japanese Prints – This talk considers how, when and why Chester Beatty brought this incredible collection of Japanese prints together, and the legacy he wanted to create for Ireland.

Watch Selling the City

Watch Dangerous Places

Watch Peace & Prosperity

Watch Buying In

This exhibition is presented with the support of the Japan Foundation and Toshiba International Foundation

Chester Beatty is a charity and your donations help make our work possible.

Open today 9:45am - 5:30pm

Tuesday to Friday 9:45am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 9:45am - 8:00pm
Saturday 9:45am - 5:30pm
Sunday 12:00pm - 5:30pm

Closed Mondays: Nov - Feb
Closed 1 Jan; Good Friday; 24-26 Dec

Admission is Free
No booking required
Suggested donation €5


Chester Beatty
Dublin Castle
Dublin 2
D02 AD92